river cuts off village

Frank Maponya

The community of Mankele village in Penge outside Burgersfort, Limpopo, has been cut off from the outside world.

This has been caused by the overflowing Olifants river, which separates the village from the neighbouring Mamogolo village.

So serious is the situation that an estimated 1000 residents of Mankele have been trapped inside the village.

It requires a home-made cable to cross over to the other side. This has also disrupted schooling in the area, and there has also been no means of delivery of food.

The village shares the same predicament with neighbours Tading and Mahlakwane villages.

On Saturday, a 27-year-old man slipped off the cable and fell into the water. Sonnyboy Mokgotho has not been seen since.

According to the deceased's brother, John Mokgotho, Sonnyboy apparently suffered from dizziness while on board the cable and fell into the water.

He said police divers were called to assist in the search for his brother but the search was called off after the divers raised concerns about their safety as well.

They allegedly insinuated that it would require the services of a helicopter to assist in searching for the body.

The divers allegedly told villagers they were not trained to handle situations where rivers were dangerously overflowing.

Mokgotho said the uncertainty of whether they would be able to find the body was eating at him. "What is even more worrying is that my brother had just paid ilobolo for his wife, who also gave birth to his daughter less than a year ago," said a worried Mokgotho.

A visit to the area yesterday highlighted the risk the villagers were subjected to on a daily basis. They have to pay R3 each to cross over to the other side. When the river is full, it is even dangerous because they stand the risk of being washed away.

A spokesman from the local Greater Tubatse Municipality, Jerminah Kaka, said the river started overflowing after authorities allegedly opened the overfilled Loskop Dam in Marble Hall to avoid it from bursting.

Kgoshi Setlamorago Thobejane, who also visited the area to warn villagers about the dangers of playing anywhere near the river, said he would take up the matter with the relevant authorities to ensure safety on the part of his subjects.